Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 October 2019

Welcome assistance for those most in need

Needy UAE residents who suffer certain ailments will be given free access to life-altering medication

Low-income patients are often left with poor access to healthcare. AP Photo
Low-income patients are often left with poor access to healthcare. AP Photo

No one sets up home in the UAE expecting to fall sick, nor still be unable to afford treatment. Yet the worst can happen. For an unfortunate few, who have found themselves battling long-term conditions and struggling to pay medical bills, the decision from the Ministry of Health and Prevention to help residents get the medication they need, even if they do not have the means to pay for them, thanks to a deal struck with medical supply companies, could save lives.

The agreement will allow low-income patients to get free medication for certain ailments. Life-enhancing drugs for illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, arthritis and blood cancers will be free to UAE residents who do not have the means to pay for them, whether they have medical insurance or not. This is especially significant in Abu Dhabi, where the autoimmune disorder multiple sclerosis affects double the global average, according to the World Health Organisation. While the exact cause is not known, vitamin D deficiency, smoking and family history are thought to be risk factors.

Illness can affect us all, regardless of income, background or social status, but it is often the most vulnerable members of society who suffer the most as a result of sickness. At least half the people on the planet do not have access to essential health services and thousands are plunged into poverty because they have to pay for expensive treatments. Studies in the UK and the US have also shown that poor access to medical care significantly reduces lifespan.

Implementing local and nationwide measures to provide free drugs to the needy is crucial to battling these discrepancies. The UAE’s healthcare initiative is part of an ambitious drive to secure better treatment for those on lower incomes. In April, a presidential decree granted treatment for rare and life-threatening diseases to patients who could not afford to pay. The initiative was launched as part of the Year of Tolerance and is a reminder that compassion can save lives and that access to medical care should be fundamental to all, regardless of income or social status.

Updated: August 6, 2019 03:28 AM

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